Lansing, MI — On Nov. 30, the Drug Enforcement Agency raided a facility in Meridian Township. Along with ground forces, the Michigan National Guard provided two Blackhawk helicopters to assist in the operation.The facility was a joint growing operation by several registered patient caregivers. The caregivers decided to rent the facility to grow medical marijuana for their patients, and remove the drug from their homes.
“We were surprised there was even a warrant. Everything inside was legal under state law,” Clark said. “I’m sure it was 100 percent legal.”
Clark and his client were not the only ones surprised by the raid. Meridian Township Police Chief Dave Hall tells Michigan Messenger that his department was never informed of the raid by federal authorities. Traditionally, when a law enforcement agency is going to be engaged in an action in another jurisdiction, they let the law enforcement from that jurisdiction know. This is done to prevent sending officers to the scene of a police action because of 9-1-1 calls.
United States District Attorney Rene Shekmer of the Western District in Grand Rapids told the City Pulse that the raid was conducted at several locations, and agents seized 400 plants, as well as growing equipment.
“Under federal law, there is no exemption for medical marijuana. Under Michigan law, there are limits and rules you have to follow,” Shekmer told the City Pulse. “As a broad brush, it does not appear they were (state-compliant) because of the number of plants.”
Feds are also seeking information from the Michigan Department of Community Health about several medical marijuana caregivers. It is widely believed this subpoena, issued in June, is directed at the caregivers involved in the Meridian Township growing operation.
But that conflict over whether or not the facilities were following Michigan law, also raises the questions about why the Michigan National Guard participated in the operation.
“Our helicopters do not support action in violation of state laws. A warrant authorizing Guard air support was issued for the Meridian Township mission. We supported the mission,” says Angela Simpson, deputy public information officer for the Michigan National Guard.
Simpson says in 2009 Guard assets were used to assist law enforcement in the seizure of 730,000 tablets of ecstasy, 607,865 pounds of illegal drugs (cocaine, heroin, hashish, crystal meth, opium, and others) and 107,480 pounds of marijuana. The counter-drug program’s focus is on prevention, education and apprehension support.
The Blackhawk helicopters, Simpson said, were not armed, nor were National Guard personnel.
Simpson also released an 80 page document from the Secretary of Defense which is the basis for the Guard’s involvement in federal government operations. Under those standing orders, Simpson says, the Guard can assist when presented with a warrant. Civilian leadership is not required to be briefed on those actions, or to approve them.
Those orders also authorize the deployment of Guard units and assets in drug interdiction actions and outline specific rules of engagement including lethal force to protect lives.
Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s office said last month that Granholm supported the actions of the National Guard, but declined to answer any specific questions.
Gov. Rick Snyder’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this situation.
The ACLU of Michigan says it is too early to tell if the use of National Guard assets was legal, or if the DEA was right to conduct the raid.
“This situation seems to raise more questions than answers. The federal government has a policy of not enforcing federal marijuana laws where state medical marijuana laws are being followed,” said Dan Korobkin, ACLU of Michigan staff attorney. “However, if a grow operation is being conducted outside of the confines of the MMMA, federal law enforcement may have reason to investigate and act.”
Dave Clark, an Okemos attorney representing one of the patient caregivers, told the City Pulse that his client and the others had done nothing illegal.
via : Cannabis News
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